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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 3748 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

homework properly. The advice that I have shown Mr Corbell clearly indicates that the Government Solicitor believes we are not doing anything in contravention of the law or the Constitution.

But if the rural lessees wish to show the Government their advice, we would be happy to consider it. You cannot consider something you have not seen. I would refute what Mr Kaine said, that they had attempted to brief me. I have met with them several times. On all occasions when they asked for a meeting, and where I could facilitate it, I met them. We even met privately. I have shown good faith in this and intend to continue to show good faith in this.

Ms Tucker raises several concerns. The land management agreements are important. The Government takes them very seriously. A key element of the rural policy package is the requirement for rural lessees to have the land management agreement. I would like to outline the Government's approach to the land management agreements and the rationale that underpins this part of the Government's rural policy.

One of the more difficult tasks which face all governments in relation to rural land is the need to recognise the right of farmers to earn a living from that land, yet protect for future generations the broader community's interests in the valuable asset that comprises the natural heritage. Nowhere in the country is that more evident than here in the bush capital. Indeed, on the way home, Mr Wood and I can pass the rural lessees. On the trip down the Monaro Highway there are farms still in existence. It is a tremendous asset for us here in Canberra. It is part of the intrinsic nature of the national capital.

The land management agreements proposed by our amendments provide a framework for integrating sustainable management of land with reasonable custodianship of that community asset. Our LMAs articulate an environmental duty of care that recognises management requirements of land degradation factors; protection needs of conservation assets; and a strategy for managing climatic and environment risk inherent to any primary production. They continue very broad, healthy balance and cooperative arrangements between the Government and rural lessees.

Ms Tucker made reference to my comments in my tabling speech. We have to ask ourselves: If we are in the business of fostering viable rural holdings, do we have to turn the ACT into an entire national park? If it is our aim to foster viable rural holdings while recognising the importance of native vegetation, indeed, putting in place a regime that will enhance its continued survival, then the land management agreements as proposed will achieve that aim.

It should be noted, Mr Speaker, that a report prepared for the Australia-New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council Standing Committee on Conservation cites the existing property management agreement used in the ACT as best practice initiative. And our model land management agreements are a significantly improved model. The new land management agreements establish a framework for ecologically sustainable management of leased rural land. They address issues such as fire and drought protection; natural resource management; management of water quality and repairing

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